Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Guest Post: Book Review - Food To Eat (for Eating Disorder Recovery)

Today's guest posting comes from our office's RD Rob Lazzinnaro who reviewed fellow RD Lori Lieberman and her co-author Cate Sangster's Food to Eat: guided, hopeful & trusted recipes for eating disorder recovery. Truthfully I've had this book for a very long time and realizing that my pile of books seems to be getting taller, not shorter, I asked Rob for his take.

Eating disorders are a highly sensitive topic. As a Registered Dietitian determining how to approach clients struggling with an eating disorder can be difficult as the disorder can essentially destroy one's relationship with food, and the road back to healthy eating can be long. For many, food becomes a source of anxiety, social tension, fear, and sometimes can be seen as the enemy. Food to Eat is a combination of practical tips on rethinking and changing how one eats, paired with a large selection of recipes.

About the authors: Lori Lieberman is a Registered Dietitian with 26 years of experience working with eating disorders, while Cate Sangster has struggled herself with an eating disorder for over 20 years; the combination of their two perspectives proves invaluable.

A few items from the book that I really enjoyed:

1. The “outsmart your eating disorder(ED) voice” question & answer snippets placed throughout the book. Truly they provide valuable insight into possible fears and concerns about the topics addressed. I imagine these questions accumulated during the author’s many years of both clinical and personal experiences.

• “So why would I take in fats, then, when they’re highest ounce for ounce (or gram for gram)?” [p.42]
• “But I’m not hungry so why should I eat?” [p.46]
• “But once I eat I get hungrier!” [p.46]
• “Why butter? Shouldn’t I use a healthier fat or none at all?” [p.68]

(you'll have to read the book to discover their answers)

2. In the segment called “putting it all together” [p.45-46] the authors provide recommendations for meal structure and timing, e.g. how often to eat. This brief overview provides an important starting point for addressing hunger. In my opinion it may be the most important segment of the book but as I point out below, I wish it were longer.

3. Some great recipes are included! Plenty of variety, textures, and cultural options with simple instructions that are accompanied by many of those fantastic ED voice Q&A’s. Also, the authors deserve a high five for including scratch dessert recipes in the book. While some might find their inclusion odd in an eating disorder book, in my opinion treats are a necessary part of any well thought out meal plan (though if your eating is disorganized and irregular, controlling them thoughtfully may prove exceedingly difficult).

A couple of items from the book that I think are important to flesh out:

1. I would have loved to see a longer discussion regarding the types of hunger that drive us. For many, reducing or eliminating physiological hunger through careful dietary organization can be a key factor in keeping emotional, environmental and social hunger cues at bay, which is why eating every 2-3 hours and not skipping meals may be one of the most powerful tools in the fight against eating disorders. That said, no doubt the content of what you eat may affect your hunger as well, which brings me to my next point.

2. Many processed and packaged food items are seemingly addictive in that they are designed to be difficult to resist, and our individual response to these items is not addressed in this book. Those struggling with an eating disorder may find it helpful to know that many foods items have been designed to be “triggers”. I am referring to processed food items that can send you in to a tailspin with just the right mix of sugar, fat and texture, and often leaving you hungrier after consuming them. I wonder the impact a shift from the highly processed world to a from scratch whole world might have on those struggling with eating disorders and dietary control issues?

Overall, the book proves to be an excellent initial guide for anyone personally struggling with an eating disorder. I also believe it can serve as a solid resource for clinicians.

If you'd like your own copy, here is an Amazon Associates link for purchase.